- “The BBVA Microcredit Foundation is a tool for improving people’s future. It is clearly in line with our corporate culture and with the UN Millennium Development Goals – to which we specifically want to contribute”.
- “We at BBVA are convinced microcredit offers enormous opportunities for our corporate responsibility programmes”.
- “For BBVA, corporate responsibility is a firm commitment to deliver maximum value to all our stakeholders and particularly to society in the countries where we operate”.
Francisco González, BBVA’s chairman, today said the bank has an important social action policy, which is the object of increasing effort and considerable resources. “The most relevant aspect of this policy is the BBVA Microcredit Foundation, with €200m in funds. This is a project of enormous scope, favouring Latin-American development. It is innovative, completely consistent with our corporate vision and a perfect fit with our strategy.” Mr González was speaking at the International Conference on Microcredit, which was opened in Madrid today by HM Queen Sofia. The conference was held at the Marqués de Salamanca Palace. Other speakers included Enrique Iglesias (secretary of the government’s Latin-American department) and Nancy Barry (president of Enterprise Solutions to Poverty).
Mr González started by referring to the important changes taking place in today’s world. “The current phase of economic growth –of unprecedented breadth and duration– plus the technological revolution and the boom enjoyed by swiftly emerging countries, heralds an important improvement in the condition of humanity although the distribution of this improvement is so far uneven”, he said.
“And we have the technology to correct the imbalance. Economic development should not be the exclusive responsibility of government. It requires action by everyone involved.”
According to Mr González, banks must play an important role in 21st century society and contribute directly to development and the standard of living. “We created the BBVA Microcredit Foundation for this reason”.
The BBVA Microcredit Foundation
BBVA organised the conference in a bid to start a forum on microcredit. This subject attracts considerable interest in today’s global society due to concerns regarding the future of poorer regions.
Mr González explained that microcredit means financial services and products for people with low incomes who otherwise have no access to these. The new initiative complements BBVA’s existing commitment to banking penetration, which contributes to the development of economies and financial systems by providing neglected sectors with access to banking products.
“The BBVA Microcredit Foundation will be BBVA’s most important social action programme so far, creating a scheme of enormous scope, which will foster Latin-American development. It is innovative, completely consistent with our corporate vision and a perfect fit with our strategy“, he said.
“The foundation has €200m in funds and its goal is to facilitate self-employment, with special emphasis on low-income women. They will become the engines of micro-business in different countries, promoting an exchange of know-how and achieving economies of scale and specialisation.”
He said the new foundation was a good mix of interests. Organisations already active in the microcredit world can contribute business and local knowledge. For its part, BBVA will provide financial strength, improved access to resources, support for management improvement and access to its networks in Latin America.
“In summary, we are using the foundation to offer society our skills. People and institutions will have a chance to use our knowledge and experience to foster business attitudes in poor communities around the world”, he added.
BBVA: a bank of people
Mr González referred to the technology revolution as the key that opens endless opportunities for the financial sector to boost development. This revolution delivers better products, faster and more efficiently, and services of higher quality and greater convenience. But it can also be used to extend financial products and services to people with lower incomes, he suggested.
“For this reason, BBVA wants to be a ‘bank of people’ rather than a ‘bank of customers’. We see corporate responsibility as a commitment to deliver maximum value to all our stakeholders. These include shareholders, employees, banking regulators, suppliers and, in particular, society in the countries where we operate.
“BBVA has an important social action policy, which is the object of increasing effort and considerable resources. In the last four years we have doubled the funds we set aside each year for social action. In 2006 the amount was more than €56m, of which €15.4m was earmarked for Latin America with special attention to education, culture, social work and research”, he concluded.